OCTOBER TERM, 2011 / Syllabus
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as isbeing done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has beenprepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337. – SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES / Syllabus

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT
BUSINESS ET AL. v. SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
No. 11–393. Argued March 26, 27, 28, 2012—Decided June 28, 2012*

In 2010, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable CareAct in order to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care. One key provision isthe individual mandate, which requires most Americans to maintain“minimum essential” health insurance coverage. 26 U. S. C. §5000A.For individuals who are not exempt, and who do not receive healthinsurance through an employer or government program, the means ofsatisfying the requirement is to purchase insurance from a private company. Beginning in 2014, those who do not comply with the mandate must make a “[s]hared responsibility payment” to the Federal Government. §5000A(b)(1). The Act provides that this “penalty”will be paid to the Internal Revenue Service with an individual’s taxes, and “shall be assessed and collected in the same manner” as tax penalties. §§5000A(c), (g)(1).Another key provision of the Act is the Medicaid expansion. The current Medicaid program offers federal funding to States to assist pregnant women, children, needy families, the blind, the elderly, and the disabled in obtaining medical care. 42 U. S. C. §1396d(a). The Affordable Care Act expands the scope of the Medicaid program andincreases the number of individuals the States must cover. For ex——————
*Together with No. 11–398, Department of Health and Human Services et al. v. Florida et al., and No. 11–400, Florida et al. v. Department of Health and Human Services et al., also on certiorari to the same court.
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ample, the Act requires state programs to provide Medicaid coverage by 2014 to adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, whereas many States now cover adults with children onlyif their income is considerably lower, and do not cover childless adults at all. §1396a(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII). The Act increases federal funding tocover the States’ costs in expanding Medicaid coverage. §1396d(y)(1).But if a State does not comply with the Act’s new coverage requirements, it may lose not only the federal funding for those requirements, but all of its federal Medicaid funds. §1396c.
Twenty-six States, several individuals, and the National Federation of Independent Business brought suit in Federal District Court,challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate and theMedicaid expansion. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the Medicaid expansion as a valid exercise of Congress’s spending power, but concluded that Congress lacked authority to enact the individual mandate. Finding the mandate severable from theAct’s other provisions, the Eleventh Circuit left the rest of the Act intact.
Held: The judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part.
648 F. 3d 1235, affirmed in part and reversed in part.
1. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Part II, concluding that the Anti-Injunction Act does notbar this suit.
The Anti-Injunction Act provides that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person,” 26 U. S. C. §7421(a), so that thosesubject to a tax must first pay it and then sue for a refund. The present challenge seeks to restrain the collection of the shared responsibility payment from those who do not comply with the individualmandate. But Congress did not intend the payment to be treated asa “tax” for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Affordable Care Act describes the payment as a “penalty,” not a “tax.” That label cannot control whether the payment is a tax for purposes of the Constitution, but it does determine the application of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Anti-Injunction Act therefore does not bar this suit. Pp. 11–
15.
2. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS concluded in Part III–A that the individual mandate is not a valid exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. Pp. 16–30.
(a) The Constitution grants Congress the power to “regulate Commerce.” Art. I, §8, cl. 3 (emphasis added). The power to regulatecommerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. This Court’s precedent reflects this understanding: As expansive as this Court’s cases construing the scope of the commerce
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power have been, they uniformly describe the power as reaching “activity.” E.g., United States v. Lopez, 514 U. S. 549, 560. The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce bypurchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affectsinterstate commerce.
Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. Congress already possesses expansive power to regulate what people do. Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce Clausewould give Congress the same license to regulate what people do notdo. The Framers knew the difference between doing something and doing nothing. They gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it. Ignoring that distinction would undermine the principle that the Federal Government is a government of limited andenumerated powers. The individual mandate thus cannot be sustained under Congress’s power to “regulate Commerce.” Pp. 16–27.
(b)
Nor can the individual mandate be sustained under the Necessary and Proper Clause as an integral part of the Affordable CareAct’s other reforms. Each of this Court’s prior cases upholding lawsunder that Clause involved exercises of authority derivative of, andin service to, a granted power. E.g., United States v. Comstock, 560
U.
S. ___. The individual mandate, by contrast, vests Congress withthe extraordinary ability to create the necessary predicate to the exercise of an enumerated power and draw within its regulatory scope those who would otherwise be outside of it. Even if the individual mandate is “necessary” to the Affordable Care Act’s other reforms, such an expansion of federal power is not a “proper” means for making those reforms effective. Pp. 27–30.
3. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS concluded in Part III–B that the individual mandate must be construed as imposing a tax on those who do not have health insurance, if such a construction is reasonable.
The most straightforward reading of the individual mandate is thatit commands individuals to purchase insurance. But, for the reasons explained, the Commerce Clause does not give Congress that power.It is therefore necessary to turn to the Government’s alternative argument: that the mandate may be upheld as within Congress’s power to “lay and collect Taxes.” Art. I, §8, cl. 1. In pressing its taxingpower argument, the Government asks the Court to view the mandate as imposing a tax on those who do not buy that product. Because “every reasonable construction must be resorted to, in order tosave a statute from unconstitutionality,” Hooper v. California, 155
U. S. 648, 657, the question is whether it is “fairly possible” to inter4
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pret the mandate as imposing such a tax, Crowell v. Benson, 285
U. S. 22, 62. Pp. 31–32.
4. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Part III–C, concluding that the individual mandate may beupheld as within Congress’s power under the Taxing Clause. Pp. 33–
44.
(a) The Affordable Care Act describes the “[s]hared responsibilitypayment” as a “penalty,” not a “tax.” That label is fatal to the application of the Anti-Injunction Act. It does not, however, control whether an exaction is within Congress’s power to tax. In answering that constitutional question, this Court follows a functional approach,“[d]isregarding the designation of the exaction, and viewing its substance and application.” United States v. Constantine, 296 U. S. 287,
294. Pp. 33–35.
(b)
Such an analysis suggests that the shared responsibilitypayment may for constitutional purposes be considered a tax. The payment is not so high that there is really no choice but to buy healthinsurance; the payment is not limited to willful violations, as penalties for unlawful acts often are; and the payment is collected solely by the IRS through the normal means of taxation. Cf. Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., 259 U. S. 20, 36–37. None of this is to say that payment is not intended to induce the purchase of health insurance. But the mandate need not be read to declare that failing to do so is unlawful. Neither the Affordable Care Act nor any other law attaches negative legal consequences to not buying health insurance, beyond requiring a payment to the IRS. And Congress’s choice of language—stating that individuals “shall” obtain insurance or pay a “penalty”—does not require reading §5000A as punishing unlawful conduct. It may also be read as imposing a tax on those who go without insurance. See New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 169–174. Pp. 35–40.
(c)
Even if the mandate may reasonably be characterized as atax, it must still comply with the Direct Tax Clause, which provides:“No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.” Art. I, §9, cl. 4. A tax on going without health insurance is not like acapitation or other direct tax under this Court’s precedents. It therefore need not be apportioned so that each State pays in proportion toits population. Pp. 40–41.
5. CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS, joined by JUSTICE BREYER and JUSTICE KAGAN, concluded in Part IV that the Medicaid expansion violates the Constitution by threatening States with the loss of their existing Medicaid funding if they decline to comply with the expansion. Pp. 45–58.
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(a)
The Spending Clause grants Congress the power “to pay theDebts and provide for the . . . general Welfare of the United States.” Art. I, §8, cl. 1. Congress may use this power to establish cooperative state-federal Spending Clause programs. The legitimacy of SpendingClause legislation, however, depends on whether a State voluntarily and knowingly accepts the terms of such programs. Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 451 U. S. 1, 17. “[T]he Constitution simply does not give Congress the authority to require the States to regulate.” New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 178. When Congress threatens to terminate other grants as a means of pressuring the States to accept a Spending Clause program, the legislationruns counter to this Nation’s system of federalism. Cf. South Dakota
v.
Dole, 483 U. S. 203, 211. Pp. 45–51.
(b)
Section 1396c gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to penalize States that choose not to participate inthe Medicaid expansion by taking away their existing Medicaid funding. 42 U. S. C. §1396c. The threatened loss of over 10 percent of a State’s overall budget is economic dragooning that leaves the Stateswith no real option but to acquiesce in the Medicaid expansion. The Government claims that the expansion is properly viewed as only a modification of the existing program, and that this modification ispermissible because Congress reserved the “right to alter, amend, orrepeal any provision” of Medicaid. §1304. But the expansion accomplishes a shift in kind, not merely degree. The original program wasdesigned to cover medical services for particular categories of vulnerable individuals. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid is transformed into a program to meet the health care needs of the entirenonelderly population with income below 133 percent of the povertylevel. A State could hardly anticipate that Congress’s reservation of the right to “alter” or “amend” the Medicaid program included the power to transform it so dramatically. The Medicaid expansion thusviolates the Constitution by threatening States with the loss of theirexisting Medicaid funding if they decline to comply with the expansion. Pp. 51–55.
(c)
The constitutional violation is fully remedied by precluding the Secretary from applying §1396c to withdraw existing Medicaidfunds for failure to comply with the requirements set out in the expansion. See §1303. The other provisions of the Affordable Care Act are not affected. Congress would have wanted the rest of the Act to stand, had it known that States would have a genuine choice whetherto participate in the Medicaid expansion. Pp. 55–58.
6. JUSTICE GINSBURG, joined by JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, is of the view that the Spending Clause does not preclude the Secretary from withholding Medicaid funds based on a State’s refusal to comply with the
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expanded Medicaid program. But given the majority view, she agrees with THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s conclusion in Part IV–B that the Medicaid Act’s severability clause, 42 U. S. C. §1303, determines theappropriate remedy. Because THE CHIEF JUSTICE finds the withholding—not the granting—of federal funds incompatible with the Spending Clause, Congress’ extension of Medicaid remains available to any State that affirms its willingness to participate. Even absent §1303’scommand, the Court would have no warrant to invalidate the fundingoffered by the Medicaid expansion, and surely no basis to tear downthe ACA in its entirety. When a court confronts an unconstitutional statute, its endeavor must be to conserve, not destroy, the legislation. See, e.g., Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New Eng., 546
U. S. 320, 328–330. Pp. 60–61.
ROBERTS, C. J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and III–C, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined; an opinion withrespect to Part IV, in which BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., joined; and an opinion with respect to Parts III–A, III–B, and III–D. GINSBURG, J., filed an opinion concurring in part, concurring in the judgment in part,and dissenting in part, in which SOTOMAYOR, J., joined, and in whichBREYER and KAGAN, JJ., joined as to Parts I, II, III, and IV. SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., filed a dissenting opinion. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
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NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in thepreliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested tonotify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in orderthat corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
Nos. 11–393, 11–398 and 11–400
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS, ET AL., PETITIONERS 11–393 v. KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL., PETITIONERS 11–398 v. FLORIDA ET AL.
FLORIDA, ET AL., PETITIONERS 11–400 v. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES ET AL.
ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
[June 28, 2012]
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS announced the judgment of theCourt and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and III–C, an opinion with respect to Part IV, in which JUSTICE BREYER and JUSTICE KAGAN join, and an opinion with respect to Parts III–A, III–B, and III–D.
Today we resolve constitutional challenges to two provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of
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2010: the individual mandate, which requires individuals to purchase a health insurance policy providing a minimum level of coverage; and the Medicaid expansion, which gives funds to the States on the condition that they provide specified health care to all citizens whose income falls below a certain threshold. We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enactthe challenged provisions.
In our federal system, the National Government possesses only limited powers; the States and the peopleretain the remainder. Nearly two centuries ago, Chief Justice Marshall observed that “the question respectingthe extent of the powers actually granted” to the Federal Government “is perpetually arising, and will probably continue to arise, as long as our system shall exist.” McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 405 (1819). In this case we must again determine whether the Constitution grants Congress powers it now asserts, but which manyStates and individuals believe it does not possess. Resolving this controversy requires us to examine both the limits of the Government’s power, and our own limited role inpolicing those boundaries.
The Federal Government “is acknowledged by all to be one of enumerated powers.” Ibid. That is, rather than granting general authority to perform all the conceivable functions of government, the Constitution lists, orenumerates, the Federal Government’s powers. Congressmay, for example, “coin Money,” “establish Post Offices,”and “raise and support Armies.” Art. I, §8, cls. 5, 7, 12. The enumeration of powers is also a limitation of powers, because “[t]he enumeration presupposes something not enumerated.” Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 195 (1824).The Constitution’s express conferral of some powersmakes clear that it does not grant others. And the Federal
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Government “can exercise only the powers granted to it.” McCulloch, supra, at 405.
Today, the restrictions on government power foremost in many Americans’ minds are likely to be affirmative prohibitions, such as contained in the Bill of Rights. These affirmative prohibitions come into play, however, only wherethe Government possesses authority to act in the firstplace. If no enumerated power authorizes Congress topass a certain law, that law may not be enacted, even if it would not violate any of the express prohibitions in the Bill of Rights or elsewhere in the Constitution.
Indeed, the Constitution did not initially include a Bill of Rights at least partly because the Framers felt the enumeration of powers sufficed to restrain the Government.As Alexander Hamilton put it, “the Constitution is itself,in every rational sense, and to every useful purpose, A BILL OF RIGHTS.” The Federalist No. 84, p. 515 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961). And when the Bill of Rights was ratified, it made express what the enumeration of powers necessarily implied: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution . . . are reserved to the Statesrespectively, or to the people.” U. S. Const., Amdt. 10. The Federal Government has expanded dramatically overthe past two centuries, but it still must show that a constitutional grant of power authorizes each of its actions. See, e.g., United States v. Comstock, 560 U. S. ___ (2010).
The same does not apply to the States, because the Constitution is not the source of their power. The Constitution may restrict state governments—as it does, for example, by forbidding them to deny any person the equal protection of the laws. But where such prohibitions do not apply, state governments do not need constitutional authorization to act. The States thus can and do performmany of the vital functions of modern government—punishing street crime, running public schools, and zoning property for development, to name but a few—even though
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the Constitution’s text does not authorize any governmentto do so. Our cases refer to this general power of governing, possessed by the States but not by the Federal Government, as the “police power.” See, e.g., United States v. Morrison, 529 U. S. 598, 618–619 (2000).
“State sovereignty is not just an end in itself: Rather,federalism secures to citizens the liberties that derive from the diffusion of sovereign power.” New York v. United States, 505 U. S. 144, 181 (1992) (internal quotationmarks omitted). Because the police power is controlled by50 different States instead of one national sovereign, the facets of governing that touch on citizens’ daily lives are normally administered by smaller governments closer tothe governed. The Framers thus ensured that powers which “in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives,liberties, and properties of the people” were held by governments more local and more accountable than a dis- tant federal bureaucracy. The Federalist No. 45, at 293
(J. Madison). The independent power of the States also serves as a check on the power of the Federal Government: “By denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects theliberty of the individual from arbitrary power.” Bond v. United States, 564 U. S. ___, ___ (2011) (slip op., at 9–10).
This case concerns two powers that the Constitution does grant the Federal Government, but which must beread carefully to avoid creating a general federal authority akin to the police power. The Constitution authorizes Congress to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, andamong the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”Art. I, §8, cl. 3. Our precedents read that to mean that Congress may regulate “the channels of interstate commerce,” “persons or things in interstate commerce,” and “those activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.” Morrison, supra, at 609 (internal quotation marksomitted). The power over activities that substantially
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affect interstate commerce can be expansive. That powerhas been held to authorize federal regulation of such seemingly local matters as a farmer’s decision to grow wheatfor himself and his livestock, and a loan shark’s extortionate collections from a neighborhood butcher shop. See Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U. S. 111 (1942); Perez v. United States, 402 U. S. 146 (1971).
Congress may also “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for thecommon Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 1. Put simply, Congress may tax and spend. This grant gives the FederalGovernment considerable influence even in areas where it cannot directly regulate. The Federal Government may enact a tax on an activity that it cannot authorize, forbid,or otherwise control. See, e.g., License Tax Cases, 5 Wall. 462, 471 (1867). And in exercising its spending power,Congress may offer funds to the States, and may condition those offers on compliance with specified conditions. See, e.g., College Savings Bank v. Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Ed. Expense Bd., 527 U. S. 666, 686 (1999). These offers may well induce the States to adopt policies thatthe Federal Government itself could not impose. See, e.g., South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U. S. 203, 205–206 (1987) (conditioning federal highway funds on States raising their drinking age to 21).
The reach of the Federal Government’s enumerated powers is broader still because the Constitution authorizes Congress to “make all Laws which shall be necessary andproper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.”Art. I, §8, cl. 18. We have long read this provision to giveCongress great latitude in exercising its powers: “Let theend be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the constitution, are
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constitutional.” McCulloch, 4 Wheat., at 421.
Our permissive reading of these powers is explained inpart by a general reticence to invalidate the acts of theNation’s elected leaders. “Proper respect for a co-ordinate branch of the government” requires that we strike downan Act of Congress only if “the lack of constitutionalauthority to pass [the] act in question is clearly demonstrated.” United States v. Harris, 106 U. S. 629, 635 (1883).Members of this Court are vested with the authority tointerpret the law; we possess neither the expertise northe prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences oftheir political choices.
Our deference in matters of policy cannot, however,become abdication in matters of law. “The powers of the legislature are defined and limited; and that those lim- its may not be mistaken, or forgotten, the constitution is written.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 176 (1803). Our respect for Congress’s policy judgments thus can never extend so far as to disavow restraints on federal power that the Constitution carefully constructed. “The peculiar circumstances of the moment may render a measure more or less wise, but cannot render it more or less constitutional.” Chief Justice John Marshall, A Friend of the Constitution No. V, Alexandria Gazette, July5, 1819, in John Marshall’s Defense of McCulloch v. Maryland 190–191 (G. Gunther ed. 1969). And there can be no question that it is the responsibility of this Court to enforce the limits on federal power by striking down acts ofCongress that transgress those limits. Marbury v. Madison, supra, at 175–176.
The questions before us must be considered against thebackground of these basic principles.
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I In 2010, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 124 Stat. 119. The Act aims to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care. The Act’s 10 titles stretch over 900 pages and contain hundreds of provisions. This case concerns constitutional challenges totwo key provisions, commonly referred to as the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion.The individual mandate requires most Americans tomaintain “minimum essential” health insurance coverage.26 U. S. C. §5000A. The mandate does not apply to some individuals, such as prisoners and undocumented aliens.§5000A(d). Many individuals will receive the required coverage through their employer, or from a government program such as Medicaid or Medicare. See §5000A(f). But for individuals who are not exempt and do not receive health insurance through a third party, the means of satisfying the requirement is to purchase insurance from a private company.Beginning in 2014, those who do not comply with themandate must make a “[s]hared responsibility payment” to the Federal Government. §5000A(b)(1). That payment,which the Act describes as a “penalty,” is calculated as a percentage of household income, subject to a floor based ona specified dollar amount and a ceiling based on the average annual premium the individual would have to pay for qualifying private health insurance. §5000A(c). In 2016, for example, the penalty will be 2.5 percent of an individual’s household income, but no less than $695 and no more than the average yearly premium for insurance that covers 60 percent of the cost of 10 specified services (e.g., prescription drugs and hospitalization). Ibid.; 42 U. S. C. §18022. The Act provides that the penalty will be paid tothe Internal Revenue Service with an individual’s taxes, and “shall be assessed and collected in the same manner”
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as tax penalties, such as the penalty for claiming too large an income tax refund. 26 U. S. C. §5000A(g)(1). The Act, however, bars the IRS from using several of its normal enforcement tools, such as criminal prosecutions and levies. §5000A(g)(2). And some individuals who are subject to the mandate are nonetheless exempt from the penalty—for example, those with income below a certainthreshold and members of Indian tribes. §5000A(e).
On the day the President signed the Act into law, Florida and 12 other States filed a complaint in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Those plaintiffs—who are both respondents and petitioners here,depending on the issue—were subsequently joined by 13more States, several individuals, and the National Federation of Independent Business. The plaintiffs alleged,among other things, that the individual mandate provisions of the Act exceeded Congress’s powers under Article I of the Constitution. The District Court agreed, holdingthat Congress lacked constitutional power to enact theindividual mandate. 780 F. Supp. 2d 1256 (ND Fla. 2011).The District Court determined that the individual mandate could not be severed from the remainder of the Act, and therefore struck down the Act in its entirety. Id., at 1305–1306.
The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmedin part and reversed in part. The court affirmed the District Court’s holding that the individual mandate exceedsCongress’s power. 648 F. 3d 1235 (2011). The panelunanimously agreed that the individual mandate did not impose a tax, and thus could not be authorized by Congress’s power to “lay and collect Taxes.” U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 1. A majority also held that the individualmandate was not supported by Congress’s power to “regulate Commerce . . . among the several States.” Id., cl. 3. According to the majority, the Commerce Clause does not empower the Federal Government to order individuals to
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engage in commerce, and the Government’s efforts to castthe individual mandate in a different light were unpersuasive. Judge Marcus dissented, reasoning that the individual mandate regulates economic activity that has a cleareffect on interstate commerce.
Having held the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, the majority examined whether that provision could be severed from the remainder of the Act. The majority determined that, contrary to the District Court’s view, it could. The court thus struck down only the individual mandate, leaving the Act’s other provisions intact.648 F. 3d, at 1328.
Other Courts of Appeals have also heard challenges to the individual mandate. The Sixth Circuit and the D. C. Circuit upheld the mandate as a valid exercise of Congress’s commerce power. See Thomas More Law Center v. Obama, 651 F. 3d 529 (CA6 2011); Seven-Sky v. Holder, 661 F. 3d 1 (CADC 2011). The Fourth Circuit determined that the Anti-Injunction Act prevents courts from considering the merits of that question. See Liberty Univ., Inc.
v. Geithner, 671 F. 3d 391 (2011). That statute bars suits “for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax.” 26 U. S. C. §7421(a). A majority of the Fourth Circuit panel reasoned that the individual mandate’spenalty is a tax within the meaning of the Anti-Injunction Act, because it is a financial assessment collected by the IRS through the normal means of taxation. The majoritytherefore determined that the plaintiffs could not challenge the individual mandate until after they paid thepenalty.1
—————— 1The Eleventh Circuit did not consider whether the Anti-Injunction Act bars challenges to the individual mandate. The District Court had determined that it did not, and neither side challenged that holding on appeal. The same was true in the Fourth Circuit, but that court examined the question sua sponte because it viewed the Anti-InjunctionAct as a limit on its subject matter jurisdiction. See Liberty Univ., 671
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The second provision of the Affordable Care Act directlychallenged here is the Medicaid expansion. Enacted in 1965, Medicaid offers federal funding to States to assist pregnant women, children, needy families, the blind, the elderly, and the disabled in obtaining medical care. See 42
U. S. C. §1396a(a)(10). In order to receive that funding,States must comply with federal criteria governing matters such as who receives care and what services are provided at what cost. By 1982 every State had chosen toparticipate in Medicaid. Federal funds received through the Medicaid program have become a substantial part ofstate budgets, now constituting over 10 percent of most States’ total revenue.
The Affordable Care Act expands the scope of the Medicaid program and increases the number of individuals the States must cover. For example, the Act requires state programs to provide Medicaid coverage to adults withincomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, whereas many States now cover adults with children only if their income is considerably lower, and do not cover childless adults at all. See §1396a(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII). The Act increases federal funding to cover the States’ costs in expanding Medicaid coverage, although States will bear a portion of the costs on their own. §1396d(y)(1). If a State does not comply with the Act’s new coverage requirements, it may lose not only the federal funding for thoserequirements, but all of its federal Medicaid funds. See §1396c.
Along with their challenge to the individual mandate,the state plaintiffs in the Eleventh Circuit argued that the Medicaid expansion exceeds Congress’s constitutional
——————
F. 3d, at 400–401. The Sixth Circuit and the D. C. Circuit considered the question but determined that the Anti-Injunction Act did not apply.See Thomas More, 651 F. 3d, at 539–540 (CA6); Seven-Sky, 661 F. 3d, at 5–14 (CADC).
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powers. The Court of Appeals unanimously held that theMedicaid expansion is a valid exercise of Congress’s power under the Spending Clause. U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 1. And the court rejected the States’ claim that the threatened loss of all federal Medicaid funding violates theTenth Amendment by coercing them into complying withthe Medicaid expansion. 648 F. 3d, at 1264, 1268.
We granted certiorari to review the judgment of theCourt of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit with respect toboth the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion. 565 U. S. ___ (2011). Because no party supports the Eleventh Circuit’s holding that the individual mandate canbe completely severed from the remainder of the AffordableCare Act, we appointed an amicus curiae to defend that aspect of the judgment below. And because there is a reasonable argument that the Anti-Injunction Act deprives us of jurisdiction to hear challenges to the individual mandate, but no party supports that proposition, weappointed an amicus curiae to advance it.2
II Before turning to the merits, we need to be sure we have the authority to do so. The Anti-Injunction Act provides that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessmentor collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the per-son against whom such tax was assessed.” 26 U. S. C. §7421(a). This statute protects the Government’s abilityto collect a consistent stream of revenue, by barring litigation
to enjoin or otherwise obstruct the collection of taxes. Because of the Anti-Injunction Act, taxes can ordinarily be ——————
2We appointed H. Bartow Farr III to brief and argue in support of theEleventh Circuit’s judgment with respect to severability, and Robert A.Long to brief and argue the proposition that the Anti-Injunction Act bars the current challenges to the individual mandate. 565 U. S. ___ (2011). Both amici have ably discharged their assigned responsibilities.
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challenged only after they are paid, by suing for a refund.See Enochs v. Williams Packing & Nav. Co., 370 U. S. 1, 7–8 (1962).
The penalty for not complying with the Affordable CareAct’s individual mandate first becomes enforceable in 2014. The present challenge to the mandate thus seeks to restrain the penalty’s future collection. Amicus contends that the Internal Revenue Code treats the penalty as atax, and that the Anti-Injunction Act therefore bars thissuit.
The text of the pertinent statutes suggests otherwise.The Anti-Injunction Act applies to suits “for the purposeof restraining the assessment or collection of any tax.” §7421(a) (emphasis added). Congress, however, chose todescribe the “[s]hared responsibility payment” imposed onthose who forgo health insurance not as a “tax,” but as a“penalty.” §§5000A(b), (g)(2). There is no immediate reason to think that a statute applying to “any tax” wouldapply to a “penalty.”
Congress’s decision to label this exaction a “penalty”rather than a “tax” is significant because the AffordableCare Act describes many other exactions it creates as“taxes.” See Thomas More, 651 F. 3d, at 551. Where Congress uses certain language in one part of a statuteand different language in another, it is generally presumed that Congress acts intentionally. See Russello v. United States, 464 U. S. 16, 23 (1983).
Amicus argues that even though Congress did not label the shared responsibility payment a tax, we should treat itas such under the Anti-Injunction Act because it functionslike a tax. It is true that Congress cannot change whether an exaction is a tax or a penalty for constitutional purposes simply by describing it as one or the other. Congressmay not, for example, expand its power under the TaxingClause, or escape the Double Jeopardy Clause’s constraint on criminal sanctions, by labeling a severe financial punCite
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ishment a “tax.” See Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., 259
U. S. 20, 36–37 (1922); Department of Revenue of Mont. v.
Kurth Ranch, 511 U. S. 767, 779 (1994).
The Anti-Injunction Act and the Affordable Care Act, however, are creatures of Congress’s own creation. How
they relate to each other is up to Congress, and the best evidence of Congress’s intent is the statutory text. We have thus applied the Anti-Injunction Act to statutorily
described “taxes” even where that label was inaccurate. See Bailey v. George, 259 U. S. 16 (1922) (Anti-Injunction Act applies to “Child Labor Tax” struck down as exceeding
Congress’s taxing power in Drexel Furniture).
Congress can, of course, describe something as a penalty
but direct that it nonetheless be treated as a tax for purposes
of the Anti-Injunction Act. For example, 26 U. S. C.
§6671(a) provides that “any reference in this title to ‘tax’
imposed by this title shall be deemed also to refer to the
penalties and liabilities provided by” subchapter 68B of
the Internal Revenue Code. Penalties in subchapter 68B
are thus treated as taxes under Title 26, which includes
the Anti-Injunction Act. The individual mandate, how-
ever, is not in subchapter 68B of the Code. Nor does any
other provision state that references to taxes in Title 26
shall also be “deemed” to apply to the individual mandate.
Amicus attempts to show that Congress did render the Anti-Injunction Act applicable to the individual mandate,
albeit by a more circuitous route. Section 5000A(g)(1) spec-
ifies that the penalty for not complying with the man-
date “shall be assessed and collected in the same manner
as an assessable penalty under subchapter B of chapter
68.” Assessable penalties in subchapter 68B, in turn, “shall be assessed and collected in the same manner as
taxes.” §6671(a). According to amicus, by directing that the penalty be “assessed and collected in the same manner
as taxes,” §5000A(g)(1) made the Anti-Injunction Act
applicable to this penalty.
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The Government disagrees. It argues that §5000A(g)(1) does not direct courts to apply the Anti-Injunction Act,because §5000A(g) is a directive only to the Secretary of the Treasury to use the same “‘methodology and procedures’” to collect the penalty that he uses to collect taxes. Brief for United States 32–33 (quoting Seven-Sky, 661
F. 3d, at 11).
We think the Government has the better reading. As it observes, “Assessment” and “Collection” are chapters of the Internal Revenue Code providing the Secretary authority to assess and collect taxes, and generally specifyingthe means by which he shall do so. See §6201 (assessment authority); §6301 (collection authority). Section 5000A(g)(1)’s command that the penalty be “assessed and collected in the same manner” as taxes is best read as referring to those chapters and giving the Secretary thesame authority and guidance with respect to the penalty. That interpretation is consistent with the remainder of§5000A(g), which instructs the Secretary on the tools hemay use to collect the penalty. See §5000A(g)(2)(A) (barring criminal prosecutions); §5000A(g)(2)(B) (prohibiting the Secretary from using notices of lien and levies). The Anti-Injunction Act, by contrast, says nothing about the procedures to be used in assessing and collecting taxes.
Amicus argues in the alternative that a different sectionof the Internal Revenue Code requires courts to treat the penalty as a tax under the Anti-Injunction Act. Section 6201(a) authorizes the Secretary to make “assessments of all taxes (including interest, additional amounts, additionsto the tax, and assessable penalties).” (Emphasis added.) Amicus contends that the penalty must be a tax, becauseit is an assessable penalty and §6201(a) says that taxesinclude assessable penalties.
That argument has force only if §6201(a) is read inisolation. The Code contains many provisions treatingtaxes and assessable penalties as distinct terms. See, e.g.,
15 Cite as: 567 U. S. ____ (2012)
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§§860(h)(1), 6324A(a), 6601(e)(1)–(2), 6602, 7122(b). There would, for example, be no need for §6671(a) to deem “tax”to refer to certain assessable penalties if the Code already included all such penalties in the term “tax.” Indeed, amicus’s earlier observation that the Code requiresassessable penalties to be assessed and collected “in thesame manner as taxes” makes little sense if assessable penalties are themselves taxes. In light of the Code’s consistent distinction between the terms “tax” and “assessable penalty,” we must accept the Government’s interpretation: §6201(a) instructs the Secretary that his authority to assess taxes includes the authority to assesspenalties, but it does not equate assessable penalties totaxes for other purposes.
The Affordable Care Act does not require that the penalty for failing to comply with the individual mandate betreated as a tax for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act.The Anti-Injunction Act therefore does not apply to thissuit, and we may proceed to the merits.
III The Government advances two theories for the proposition that Congress had constitutional authority to enact the individual mandate. First, the Government arguesthat Congress had the power to enact the mandate under the Commerce Clause. Under that theory, Congress mayorder individuals to buy health insurance because thefailure to do so affects interstate commerce, and could undercut the Affordable Care Act’s other reforms. Second, the Government argues that if the commerce power does not support the mandate, we should nonetheless uphold itas an exercise of Congress’s power to tax. According to the Government, even if Congress lacks the power to directindividuals to buy insurance, the only effect of the individual mandate is to raise taxes on those who do not do so, and thus the law may be upheld as a tax.
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A The Government’s first argument is that the individual mandate is a valid exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. According to the Government, the health care market ischaracterized by a significant cost-shifting problem. Everyone will eventually need health care at a time and to an extent they cannot predict, but if they do not have insurance, they often will not be able to pay for it. Because state and federal laws nonetheless require hospitals toprovide a certain degree of care to individuals without regard to their ability to pay, see, e.g., 42 U. S. C. §1395dd; Fla. Stat. Ann. §395.1041, hospitals end up receiving compensation for only a portion of the services they provide. To recoup the losses, hospitals pass on the cost toinsurers through higher rates, and insurers, in turn, passon the cost to policy holders in the form of higher premiums. Congress estimated that the cost of uncompensated care raises family health insurance premiums, onaverage, by over $1,000 per year. 42 U. S. C. §18091(2)(F).In the Affordable Care Act, Congress addressed theproblem of those who cannot obtain insurance coveragebecause of preexisting conditions or other health issues. It did so through the Act’s “guaranteed-issue” and “community- rating” provisions. These provisions together prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to those with such conditions or charging unhealthy individuals higher premiums than healthy individuals. See §§300gg, 300gg–1, 300gg–3, 300gg–4. The guaranteed-issue and community-rating reforms donot, however, address the issue of healthy individuals whochoose not to purchase insurance to cover potential healthcare needs. In fact, the reforms sharply exacerbate thatproblem, by providing an incentive for individuals to delaypurchasing health insurance until they become sick, relying on the promise of guaranteed and affordable coverage.
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The reforms also threaten to impose massive new costs on insurers, who are required to accept unhealthy individuals but prohibited from charging them rates necessary to payfor their coverage. This will lead insurers to significantly increase premiums on everyone. See Brief for America’s Health Insurance Plans et al. as Amici Curiae in No. 11– 393 etc. 8–9.
The individual mandate was Congress’s solution tothese problems. By requiring that individuals purchasehealth insurance, the mandate prevents cost-shifting bythose who would otherwise go without it. In addition, the mandate forces into the insurance risk pool more healthyindividuals, whose premiums on average will be higher than their health care expenses. This allows insurers to subsidize the costs of covering the unhealthy individuals the reforms require them to accept. The Government claims that Congress has power under the Commerce andNecessary and Proper Clauses to enact this solution.
1 The Government contends that the individual mandate is within Congress’s power because the failure to purchase insurance “has a substantial and deleterious effect on interstate commerce” by creating the cost-shifting problem. Brief for United States 34. The path of our Commerce Clause decisions has not always run smooth, see United States v. Lopez, 514 U. S. 549, 552–559 (1995), but it is now well established that Congress has broad authority under the Clause. We have recognized, for example, that “[t]he power of Congress over interstate commerce is not confined to the regulation of commerce among thestates,” but extends to activities that “have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.” United States v. Darby, 312 U. S. 100, 118–119 (1941). Congress’s power, moreover, is not limited to regulation of an activity that by itselfsubstantially affects interstate commerce, but also extends
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to activities that do so only when aggregated with similar activities of others. See Wickard, 317 U. S., at 127–128.
Given its expansive scope, it is no surprise that Congress has employed the commerce power in a wide variety of ways to address the pressing needs of the time. But Congress has never attempted to rely on that power tocompel individuals not engaged in commerce to purchasean unwanted product.3 Legislative novelty is not necessarily fatal; there is a first time for everything. But sometimes “the most telling indication of [a] severe constitutional problem . . . is the lack of historical precedent” for Congress’s action. Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Bd., 561 U. S. ___, ___ (2010) (slip op., at 25) (internal quotation marks omitted). At the very least, we should “pause to consider the implications ofthe Government’s arguments” when confronted with such new conceptions of federal power. Lopez, supra, at 564.
The Constitution grants Congress the power to “regulate Commerce.” Art. I, §8, cl. 3 (emphasis added). The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. If the power to “regulate”something included the power to create it, many of theprovisions in the Constitution would be superfluous. For example, the Constitution gives Congress the power to“coin Money,” in addition to the power to “regulate the Value thereof.” Id., cl. 5. And it gives Congress the power ——————
3The examples of other congressional mandates cited by JUSTICE GINSBURG, post, at 35, n. 10 (opinion concurring in part, concurring in judgment in part, and dissenting in part), are not to the contrary. Each of those mandates—to report for jury duty, to register for the draft, topurchase firearms in anticipation of militia service, to exchange goldcurrency for paper currency, and to file a tax return—are based on constitutional provisions other than the Commerce Clause. See Art. I, §8, cl. 9 (to “constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court”); id.,
cl. 12 (to “raise and support Armies”); id., cl. 16 (to “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia”); id., cl. 5 (to “coin Money”); id., cl. 1 (to “lay and collect Taxes”).
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to “raise and support Armies” and to “provide and maintain a Navy,” in addition to the power to “make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and navalForces.” Id., cls. 12–14. If the power to regulate the armed forces or the value of money included the power to bring the subject of the regulation into existence, thespecific grant of such powers would have been unnecessary. The language of the Constitution reflects the natural understanding that the power to regulate assumesthere is already something to be regulated. See Gibbons, 9 Wheat., at 188 (“[T]he enlightened patriots who framed our constitution, and the people who adopted it, must be understood to have employed words in their natural sense, and to have intended what they have said”).4
Our precedent also reflects this understanding. As expansive as our cases construing the scope of the commerce power have been, they all have one thing in common: They uniformly describe the power as reaching “activity.” It is nearly impossible to avoid the word whenquoting them. See, e.g., Lopez, supra, at 560 (“Where economic activity substantially affects interstate commerce, legislation regulating that activity will be sus——————
4 JUSTICE GINSBURG suggests that “at the time the Constitution wasframed, to ‘regulate’ meant, among other things, to require action.” Post, at 23 (citing Seven-Sky v. Holder, 661 F. 3d 1, 16 (CADC 2011); brackets and some internal quotation marks omitted). But to reach this conclusion, the case cited by JUSTICE GINSBURG relied on a dictionary in which “[t]o order; to command” was the fifth-alternative definition of “to direct,” which was itself the second-alternative definition of “to regulate.” See Seven-Sky, supra, at 16 (citing S. Johnson, Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed. 1773) (reprinted 1978)). It is unlikely that the Framers had such an obscure meaning in mind whenthey used the word “regulate.” Far more commonly, “[t]o regulate”meant “[t]o adjust by rule or method,” which presupposes something to adjust. 2 Johnson, supra, at 1619; see also Gibbons, 9 Wheat., at 196 (defining the commerce power as the power “to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed”).
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tained”); Perez, 402 U. S., at 154 (“Where the class of activities is regulated and that class is within the reach of federal power, the courts have no power to excise, as trivial, individual instances of the class” (emphasis in original; internal quotation marks omitted)); Wickard, supra, at 125 (“[E]ven if appellee’s activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whateverits nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce”); NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U. S. 1, 37 (1937) (“Although activities may be intrastate in character whenseparately considered, if they have such a close and substantial relation to interstate commerce that their control is essential or appropriate to protect that commerce fromburdens and obstructions, Congress cannot be denied thepower to exercise that control”); see also post, at 15, 25–26, 28, 32 (GINSBURG, J., concurring in part, concurring in judgment in part, and dissenting in part).5
The individual mandate, however, does not regulateexisting commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product,on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce. Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they aredoing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. Every day individuals donot do an infinite number of things. In some cases they
—————— 5 JUSTICE GINSBURG cites two eminent domain cases from the 1890s to support the proposition that our case law does not “toe the activityversus inactivity line.” Post, at 24–25 (citing Monongahela Nav. Co. v. United States, 148 U. S. 312, 335–337 (1893), and Cherokee Nation v. Southern Kansas R. Co., 135 U. S. 641, 657–659 (1890)). The fact that the Fifth Amendment requires the payment of just compensationwhen the Government exercises its power of eminent domain does not turn the taking into a commercial transaction between the landowner and the Government, let alone a government-compelled transactionbetween the landowner and a third party.
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decide not to do something; in others they simply fail todo it. Allowing Congress to justify federal regulation bypointing to the effect of inaction on commerce would bringcountless decisions an individual could potentially make within the scope of federal regulation, and—under the Government’s theory—empower Congress to make thosedecisions for him.
Applying the Government’s logic to the familiar case of Wickard v. Filburn shows how far that logic would carryus from the notion of a government of limited powers. In Wickard, the Court famously upheld a federal penalty imposed on a farmer for growing wheat for consumption on his own farm. 317 U. S., at 114–115, 128–129. That amount of wheat caused the farmer to exceed his quota under a program designed to support the price of wheat by limiting supply. The Court rejected the farmer’s argumentthat growing wheat for home consumption was beyond the reach of the commerce power. It did so on the ground thatthe farmer’s decision to grow wheat for his own use allowed him to avoid purchasing wheat in the market. That decision, when considered in the aggregate along with similar decisions of others, would have had a substantial effect on the interstate market for wheat. Id., at 127–129.
Wickard has long been regarded as “perhaps the most far reaching example of Commerce Clause authority over intrastate activity,” Lopez, 514 U. S., at 560, but the Government’s theory in this case would go much further.Under Wickard it is within Congress’s power to regulate the market for wheat by supporting its price. But price can be supported by increasing demand as well as bydecreasing supply. The aggregated decisions of someconsumers not to purchase wheat have a substantial effect on the price of wheat, just as decisions not to purchasehealth insurance have on the price of insurance. Congresscan therefore command that those not buying wheat do so,just as it argues here that it may command that those not
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buying health insurance do so. The farmer in Wickard was at least actively engaged in the production of wheat, and the Government could regulate that activity because of its effect on commerce. The Government’s theory herewould effectively override that limitation, by establishing that individuals may be regulated under the CommerceClause whenever enough of them are not doing something the Government would have them do.
Indeed, the Government’s logic would justify a mandatory purchase to solve almost any problem. See Seven-Sky, 661 F. 3d, at 14–15 (noting the Government’s inabilityto “identify any mandate to purchase a product or ser- vice in interstate commerce that would be unconstitutional” under its theory of the commerce power). To consider a different example in the health care market, many Americans do not eat a balanced diet. That group makes up a larger percentage of the total population than those without health insurance. See, e.g., Dept. of Agriculture and Dept. of Health and Human Services, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 1 (2010). The failure of that group to have a healthy diet increases health care costs, to agreater extent than the failure of the uninsured to purchase insurance. See, e.g., Finkelstein, Trogdon, Cohen, & Dietz, Annual Medical Spending Attributable to Obesity: Payer- and Service-Specific Estimates, 28 Health Affairsw822 (2009) (detailing the “undeniable link between rising rates of obesity and rising medical spending,” and estimating that “the annual medical burden of obesity hasrisen to almost 10 percent of all medical spending and could amount to $147 billion per year in 2008”). Those increased costs are borne in part by other Americans who must pay more, just as the uninsured shift costs to the insured. See Center for Applied Ethics, Voluntary Health Risks: Who Should Pay?, 6 Issues in Ethics 6 (1993) (noting “overwhelming evidence that individuals with unhealthy habits pay only a fraction of the costs associated
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with their behaviors; most of the expense is borne by the rest of society in the form of higher insurance premiums,government expenditures for health care, and disability benefits”). Congress addressed the insurance problem by ordering everyone to buy insurance. Under the Government’s theory, Congress could address the diet problem by ordering everyone to buy vegetables. See DietaryGuidelines, supra, at 19 (“Improved nutrition, appropriateeating behaviors, and increased physical activity have tremendous potential to . . . reduce health care costs”).
People, for reasons of their own, often fail to do thingsthat would be good for them or good for society. Those failures—joined with the similar failures of others—canreadily have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. Under the Government’s logic, that authorizes Congress to use its commerce power to compel citizens to act as the Government would have them act.
That is not the country the Framers of our Constitutionenvisioned. James Madison explained that the CommerceClause was “an addition which few oppose and from whichno apprehensions are entertained.” The Federalist No. 45, at 293. While Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause has of course expanded with the growth of thenational economy, our cases have “always recognized that the power to regulate commerce, though broad indeed, has limits.” Maryland v. Wirtz, 392 U. S. 183, 196 (1968). The Government’s theory would erode those limits, permitting Congress to reach beyond the natural extent of its authority, “everywhere extending the sphere of its activity anddrawing all power into its impetuous vortex.” The Federalist No. 48, at 309 (J. Madison). Congress already enjoysvast power to regulate much of what we do. Accepting the Government’s theory would give Congress the samelicense to regulate what we do not do, fundamentally changing the relation between the citizen and the Federal
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Government.6
To an economist, perhaps, there is no difference between activity and inactivity; both have measurable economic effects on commerce. But the distinction between doingsomething and doing nothing would not have been lost on the Framers, who were “practical statesmen,” not metaphysical philosophers. Industrial Union Dept., AFL–CIO
v. American Petroleum Institute, 448 U. S. 607, 673 (1980) (Rehnquist, J., concurring in judgment). As we have explained, “the framers of the Constitution were not merevisionaries, toying with speculations or theories, but practical men, dealing with the facts of political life as they understood them, putting into form the government they were creating, and prescribing in language clear and intelligible the powers that government was to take.” South Carolina v. United States, 199 U. S. 437, 449 (1905). The Framers gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it, and for over 200 years both our decisions and Congress’s actions have reflected this understanding. There is no reason to depart from that understanding now.
The Government sees things differently. It argues thatbecause sickness and injury are unpredictable but unavoidable, “the uninsured as a class are active in the market for health care, which they regularly seek and obtain.”Brief for United States 50. The individual mandate “merely regulates how individuals finance and pay for that
—————— 6In an attempt to recast the individual mandate as a regulation of commercial activity, JUSTICE GINSBURG suggests that “[a]n individualwho opts not to purchase insurance from a private insurer can be seen as acti

 

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